Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference


The following article is by Landon Romano (BA 1999), who titled it “2013-2014 Mission for water. Mission for life. The story of Tekatako Daycare in White River, South Africa”:

Dedication: This article is dedicated to the late Elizabeth Mabena, who spearheaded the upstart of the Tekatako Daycare, White River, South Africa. She died of tuberculosis, December 2013. And the article is further dedicated to the late Paul Mason, who was a captain of industry in South African timber farming. He was killed on his farm during a robbery, October 2013. May The Lord Jesus bless both Elizabeth’s and Paul’s families. May their legacies of personal and professional Christian integrity be carried throughout future generations.

We as United States of America citizens have no clue how good life is in the USA. We have food, shelter, clothing, education, and healthcare. We are the richest of rich. No one is richer than the 300 million persons inhabiting the United States.

And then there are those in need.

Water provides life. Where water flows, life grows.

Africa, 2014. Who would think with the wealth and riches of the continent that people would suffer the unthinkable? There is limited life without food, shelter, clothing, education, and/or healthcare. Life is limited without clean water.

There are a multitude of reasons why this happens.

I am not here to answer the question of “Why?” I am writing to you from a businessman, geographer, and Christian perspective of “How can we help?” I am writing this article to invoke a feeling of compassion toward the poorest of poor. I am writing this article to petition for people to wake up to becoming more selfless than simply wanting a new Mercedes-Benz. I am writing this article because there is an injustice in this world called poverty.

The poor will always be among us. That is a fact. We cannot deny the truth. We can accept it and ask “How can I individually be of help?” I cannot, yet, write a $1 billion check like Bill and Melinda Gates. I cannot, yet, contribute $36 billion to that foundation like Warren Buffett. But I can write an article to highlight where basic needs are not being met. And ask of you to make a deliberate effort to think about someone else’s needs other than your own today.

How did this deep seated desire come to a reality? It started 2010 when I stayed in Johannesburg and attended a small house church. When I started to awaken to our Creator’s bigger dreams and picture, I began to feel the urge to help when and where I could in an individual way. That year in my heart I felt the need and want to provide clean, potable water for people in need.

My friend and I talked about ways of going about this with limited resources. We never really could figure out how. We thought of pumps that children would play on like marry-go-rounds. We thought about wells. We thought about boreholes. Yet, the resources and location were neither in hand at the time. Our hearts’ desires to provide clean water were all that we felt.

The years progressed. My finances provided for greater ability to make an impact. In 2011 I established The Apollos Ministries Foundation for the Gospel of Christ Jesus with the help of Winters-King attorneys of Oklahoma. I had found them by referral from Joyce Meyers’ Ministries. They were efficient and price sensitive. They helped from the State of Texas and United States Internal Revenues Services perspectives. We opened a bank account at Texas Community Bank, Laredo, Texas and a stock brokerage account which is now with Charles Schwab.

All of these activities were conducted by email, phone and courier from my residence in South Africa. All of the persons involved saw The Bigger Picture and Purpose. All the persons involved were eager to contribute. And they did by making the business administration side of the foundation have the ability to facilitate cash and assets as resources to allocate toward people in need.

The years carried on. 2012 I married my gorgeous wife, Karien. We remain in South Africa, now residing in Pretoria. We have extensively traveled Africa for personal, professional and Kingdom purposes. We have been blessed by basic needs, hearts’ desires and an overflow of abundance that we must share with others.

Last year, 2013, Megan Giddy-Kirk, asked me whether I would be interested in helping her drill for water at the Tekatako Daycare in White River. I laughed and said, “Of course! That’s been our dream since 2010.” She had heard from our mutual friend, Dr. Ted Jacobs of Henley on Klip, that a daycare of 120 children needed fresh water, as the municipal truck was unreliable and their three tanks were insufficient in collecting and keeping water. Ted and his wife Dale have been sponsoring the daycare with cash each month for food. Ted and Dale had learned of the daycare from Neels and Jo Nel, who were missionaries in White River.

God gathers His people through the earth for His purposes. I am convinced there is no such thing as a coincidence. How is it that the people above connected the geographic dots to the persons who had the resources and hearts’ desires to drill for clean water for the poor? That is no coincidence. That is divine appointment. And we take that calling serious.

At first I was apprehensive, as I know Africa is full of mischievous characters. So, I asked our timber farming friends, Paul and Gwynn Mason, to investigate the matter. Gwynn, a former teacher, returned with glowing reports of the value we could inject into the daycare by providing basic needs including educational materials and water. I was thrilled!

We proceeded as The Apollos Ministries Foundation board in our determination to drill for water. Megan Giddy-Kirk, Shaun Frost, and I are the three directors on the board. We have a prayer team and eldership guiding and directing us, as well. We all unanimously agreed this would be a project of significance; therefore, we committed time and efforts to determine what resources would be required to establish a borehole for the 120 children and community at large.

To put this further into perspective, I reside in Pretoria, South Africa, which is a four plus hour drive to White River. The Masons were the only persons I knew in White River. I did my best to search for a reputable surveyor, geologist and driller, but had no clue how to go about this. Then divine appointment hit, again. At our church in Pretoria, our church leader, Rory Dyer, introduced his friend Alan Parfitt as a visitor from Nelspruit, which is the city 20 kilometers from White River. Bingo! I approached Alan and asked him to refer me to reputable persons for support.

Onto the scene arrives Kuda Zumbika, an ex-pat Zimbabwean, with a civil engineering degree and knowledge of drilling boreholes. Alan and Kuda fellowship together in Nelspruit and Kuda responded to the call for action. First Barry Venter was employed as a geologist to determine the exact spot to drill using his geologic equipment. He literally pinned and flagged the spot and provided a detailed report, which anyone is welcome to review upon request.

Kuda started collecting quotes for boreholes in December 2013. By January 2014 we had the cash available to start the process. We paid 29 January 2014 and then waited about eight weeks for the drilling to start due to the torrential, unexpected rains and floods.

Thursday, 10 April 2014, Herman Steyn of Steyn Drilling, White River, struck water at 40 meters. The estimate was 60 meters. Herman continued drilling to 50 meters in case the water table changes. The final step, which will soon be complete is obtaining and installing a submersible pump. The pump will fill one of the current water tanks on the property. And they will have clean borehole water!

Water is a mission critical for life. We as US citizens take for granted having water readily come out of a tap. In Africa there are many people who do not have the privilege of clean, potable water. But now I know that the 120 children of Tekatako Daycare along with the surrounding neighbors will have the opportunity to share from His Living Waters.

If you would like additional information about how you could contribute to either the UCSB Department of Geography’s Landon Romano Textbook Scholarship or The Apollos Ministries Foundation, please feel free to contact me at telephone number +27-71-688-7842 or by email at landon@apollosministries.org. My main line of business is value investing, which is the current sponsor of these two sets of funds. Blessings & gratitude, Landon Romano, Managing Director

Image 1 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
The late Elizabeth Mabena, who spearheaded the upstart of the Tekatako Daycare, White River, South Africa

Image 2 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
Nicolas and his late wife, Elzabeth

Image 3 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
Front of Tekatako Daycare

Image 4 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
A few of the staff and children at Tekatako Daycare

Image 5 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
Back of Tekatako Daycare

Image 6 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
Tekatako Daycare water tanks

Image 7 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
Thursday, 10 April 2014, Herman Steyn of Steyn Drilling, White River, struck water at 40 meters

Image 8 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
Drilling continued to 50 meters in case the water table changes. The final step, which will soon be complete, is obtaining and installing a submersible pump. The pump will fill one of the current water tanks on the property

Image 9 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
Landon Romano established The Landon Romano Geography Textbook Scholarship in order to give something back to the department that made such a positive difference in his career

Image 10 for article titled "Landon Romano: An Alumnus Who Makes a Difference"
Clean borehole water began to flow from the submersible pump in the third week of May 2014